Workplace politics can be a delicate subject. Workplace politics is the manifestation of power dynamics amongst employees. At its best, you’ll feel like you’re walking on eggshells each time you set foot in the office and at its worst, you can ruffle a few feathers, making each day feel miserable. Every office has some form of politics; what matters is whether or not they are toxic. Here we’ll go over ways you can overcome workplace politics, or at the very least stay on the right side of issues, to avoid becoming embroiled in drama.

Know the Ins & Outs of the Organization 

The first way to overcome workplace politics is to understand different functions of the organization. This means understanding the company’s organizational structure, who reports to who. It’s also important to understand who within the organization has influence. You might ask yourself questions such as, “who are the true influencers? Who is respected? Who mentors others?” 

Embrace Transparency 

Stress the importance of open communication among and between teams, especially if you manage people. Your team members should feel at ease coming to you with problems they’re having without repercussion. Open communication leads to effective communication which then leads to an efficient workflow. When employees feel comfortable discussing workplace problems with co-workers, it leads to the potential resolution of problems. 

Implement a Realistic Code of Conduct

Simply having a definition for what establishes acceptable behavior is a major step in avoiding workplace conflict. Making a system for decision making, encouraging open collaboration, team building, leadership training and development, and careful hiring will all help avoid workplace conflict. It’s important to have clearly defined responsibilities so everyone knows what’s expected from them.

It is equally important to have a clearly laid out chain of command to allow for effective communication. In other words, define workplace rules clearly and make it known what will or will not be tolerated. Removing assumptions will drastically reduce the risk of conflict in the workplace.

Don’t Add Fuel to Fire

Behaviors to avoid include: 

  • Spreading gossip 
  • Choosing sides 
  • Taking part in the rumor mill
  • Becoming jealous

Become Swiss and Don’t Take Sides 

It is vital that employees remain neutral during conflicts, even if you like someone more than another. Your position may be a trusted authority figure, meaning that your actions and words have significant meaning. Think about what is best for the company, not for personal satisfaction. Remaining neutral allows you to make great decisions and stay separate from workplace politics. Once a side is taken it is difficult to overcome. 

Get Level: Cooler Heads Prevail

Similar to remaining objective, don’t lose your cool and become aggressive with someone or you’ll gain a negative reputation for it. This is relevant advice for all workplace situations. If you do not remain cool, your reputation and career is at risk. Even though workplace politics may upset you, staying cool has its benefits. Keeping cool prevents you from saying or doing anything in the moment that you may regret later. 

Practice What You Preach: Political Behavior Comes From The Top 

Owners and managers influence behavior. If they promote or facilitate a toxic political atmosphere, it may be time to search for a new job. Leaders in the organization must take steps to eliminate political behavior  immediately. 

How Managers Can Quash Negative Workplace Behavior

  • Share the goals that you are trying to achieve and reward those who help achieve them. When the collective goal is clear, it is less likely that people will prioritize their own interests first. 
  • Keep every employee in the organization involved so no one employee feels more important than another. 
  • Make connections within the organization and develop strong interpersonal communication between individuals via lunches, happy hours, kickball leagues, etc. When employees are connected and respect one another, workplace politics begin to diminish. 

Conflict in the workplace is inevitable, even with the most agreeable personalities. The average American spends well over 2,000 hours at work over the course of a year. When employees of various backgrounds and different work styles are brought together to work on the same project with the same goal, conflict could be a natural byproduct. Not all conflict is bad, however all conflict can and should be managed and resolved. If handled correctly, confronting conflict head-on will result in a stronger culture and closer teams.

– Rebecca Freiberg, Society Insurance 

Share This